Can a delivery pizza place survive with no telephone? Oxford’s new Dodo Pizza at 614 Jackson Avenue East is sure going to try.
Marketing director Alena Tikhova said, “We don’t have a telephone; all pizza orders are placed online at our website: dodopizza.com. Our website is user friendly and ordering is easy, so no one will even miss talking to us on the phone.”
Everything about Dodo Pizza, including its web-only ordering, is about keeping things efficient, according to Tikhova.
“Our goal is to be super-efficient in the kitchen,” she said. “We decided to have a very simple menu, with just seven classic recipes with great ingredients, and got rid of everything else we don’t need.”
The seven pizza varieties available at Dodo Pizza include Margherita, Supreme, Hawaiian, The Meats, Veggie, Pepperoni, and Chicken Club.
While Dodo Pizza is new to Oxford, the company itself has been operating locations in Russia since 2011, with additional outposts in Europe, Kazakhstan, and China. Being that Dodo Pizza hails from Russia, questions have come up regarding what “Russian pizza” tastes like.
“There’s no such thing as Russian pizza,” said Tikhova. “What we sell in Russia is New York-style American pizza. The difference is that here in the Oxford, Dodo Pizza is able to work with fresh ingredients, while in Russia, we have to work with only what’s available to us, which sometimes means having to get frozen ingredients shipped from further away.”
Tikhova says that with so many companies and so many ingredients available here in the U.S., it would be a shame not to use them to improve the quality of Dodo’s product. “The pizza we serve is very similar to other hand-tossed delivery pizzas you’ve had, but a better version of them.”
Additionally, Dodo Pizza has sought help from national pizza experts and local pizzerias when creating the dough for its American pizzeria.
“Here in the U.S. we have access to great pizza makers to help us improve our dough recipe, which is exactly what we did,” said Tikhova. “For example, TriBecca Allie Café in Sardis, Mississippi, helped us a lot to improve our dough.”
Why the U.S?
So, why would a Russian pizza company choose Oxford, Mississippi, as its first U.S.-based location, you may wonder. It certainly doesn’t hurt that the nation’s number one pizza industry magazine, PMQ Pizza Magazine, is based in Oxford, and many test pizzas were created in the PMQ ovens during the Dodo Pizza buildout. But, the bigger reason is because of the opportunity for growing pizza companies in America.
“The reason we decided to expand to America was first to test ourselves, and second, because the U.S. is one of the most competitive pizza markets in the world, so if we can be successful here, we can probably be successful anywhere else on this planet,” said Tikhova. “We will learn a lot for the rest of the world, because we have opportunities here that we don’t have anywhere else.”
500 Free Pizzas
Using a marketing ploy that many small business owners would deem crazy, Dodo Pizza offered 500 free pizzas to local beta testers who volunteered to try the pizza before the opening and post their honest reviews on the Dodo Pizza Facebook page. On opening day, Dodo Pizza already had close to 100 reviews with an average rating of 4.9 out of 5 stars.
“We were, to be honest, surprised at how much people love our pizza,” said Tikhova. “We knew that giving away 500 pizzas would create some buzz, if the pizza was good.”
For those who like learning about businesses—or just like watching their pizza being made, Dodo has you covered.
“Transparency has always been a part of our business,” said Tikhova. “Dodo Pizza started as a very small blog of our founder, Fedor Ovchinnikov, in Russia, where he described everything, including all of his financial documents. People were very interested in following along to see what would happen next. So, he decided to incorporate this same approach to the whole business.”
Because of this early transparency, Dodo Pizza now has webcams in the kitchen that show pizza being made and real-time financial data on the website at dodopizza.com. Just another facet of being a tech-savvy pizza business.
In a world run on text and email, I think Dodo Pizza may be onto something. Who uses phones for calling people, right?
For more information about Dodo Pizza, visit dodopizza.com, dodopizzastory.com or the company’s Dodo Pizza Facebook page.
Liz Barrett Foster is the EatingOxford editor for HottyToddy.com, an award-winning business journalist, and author of the recently published Pizza: A Slice of American History. Liz has run the popular restaurant information site Eating Oxford since 2009. Liz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.